Joe Namath is the most iconic of all New York Jets players, but in recent years he's also been one of the franchise's most outspoken critics. That's why, he says, his relationship with the team is so damaged.
''I wouldn't say communication has been totally cut off," Namath said. "I still get along with some of the players and some of the personnel, but it's been a bit awkward. None of us, I don't think any of us like to be criticized in a negative way and whenever some of the criticism rubs you the wrong way, it's clumsy. I would say right now it's a clumsy relationship."
Namath's recent criticism of the Jets has included words such as "misleading" and "deceptive," terms that go beyond questioning play calling and talent assessment.
''Going back prior to last season, the team was being touted as the best team that Coach (Rex) Ryan has had yet," Namath said. "When I say deceptive, some of the reasons they were giving on why they signed (Tim) Tebow, for example, and why didn't they use him. I find it deceptive when you are getting players for reasons other than winning football games. Is winning the basic goal here, which it should be? I just have had problems with some of the explanations and unexplained moves over the last couple of years."
While he has been bluntly critical of the Jets in the past, Namath seemed to have an optimistic view of the immediate future.
He said he thinks the Jets can make the playoffs in 2013. "The new batch that's in here, I look for them to win," he said. "We've seen teams in the past not make the playoffs and then get to the Super Bowl (the following year). Wild cards win them. Last to first, that kind of stuff."
He bristled at the idea of Ryan being a "lame duck" head coach.
''I can understand it a little bit," he said. "The general manager didn't pick the head coach. But in the meantime, he is the head coach, and Rex and his team have got to get together and prove that they're all worthy of being there the year after. It's really not brain science or surgery or all that. It's football. They've got bodies who need to own up and perform and otherwise they're gone."
And he thinks that when the 2013 season starts, there will be a familiar face at quarterback for the Jets.
''It depends on from now to September who in the heck wins the job," he said. "(Mark) Sanchez has an edge, but he's got to show it. And my guess is that come September, Sanchez will be starting the season because of his experience."
That confidence and praise of the Jets' fifth-year quarterback over rookie Geno Smith may not be enough to thaw the frostiness that exists between Namath and the Jets, however.
Can the relationship be fixed?
''I would think so," Namath told Newsday. "Change is a positive. Change is a constant."
More importantly, though: Can the Jets be fixed?
''I certainly hope so," Namath said. "I'm a fan, I'm pulling for them."